Beliefs: An Open Invitation to the Anthropology of Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion

Amanda Zunner-Keating
2 min readDec 2, 2020


This is an open-source textbook project for Los Angeles Valley College. Professors: If you assign this text to your course or if you would like to contribute to the next draft, please email the editors at, and consider downloading the corresponding Canvas Shell.

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Anthropology of Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion

Chapter 2: Cultural Relativism and Cannibalism

Chapter 3: Theoretical Approaches Toward The Study Of Religion

Chapter 4: Postmodern Thought

Chapter 5: Witchcraft

Chapter 6: Rituals

Chapter 7: Myths

Chapter 8: Comparative Religion

Chapter 9: Religion and Syncretism

Chapter 10: Altered States of Consciousness

Chapter 11: Religious Specialists

A book cover depicting a religious text surrounded by glowing light. The text reads “Beliefs.“
Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

This text is dedicated to Sidney Lark and Nairi Thea who brilliantly entertained themselves while their moms researched, drafted, and edited these chapters.

Special thanks to Los Angeles Valley College and to ASCCC for the funding necessary to pursue to this project. We succeeded with particular support from LAVC’s Meghan Cason and encouragement from Rebecca Stein and from Suzanne Wakin from ASCCC.

We are similarly grateful to the Representations authors and editors who contributed additions to this text.

Of course, none of this could be possible without the incredible contributions of George Gmelch, Shirley Lindenbaum, Michael Fobes Brown, Griffin Ced, Jill Weiss, Natural History Magazine, and NPR.


Amanda Zunner-Keating; Madlen Avetyan; Ben Shepard; Brian Pierson; Jennifer Campbell; Laurie Solis; Melody Yeager-Struthers; Oscar Hernández; Sarah Etheridge; Robin Huffman; Marvin Harris; George Gmelch; Griffin Ced; Jennifer Sime; Jill Weiss; Julie Jenkins; Angela Glaros; Tad McIlwraith; Jennifer Faux-Campbell; Jessica Proctor; Martin Tsang; Jennifer Miller-Thayer; and Julie Vazquez

Student Researchers:
Alexa Zysman; Angelica Alvarado; Olivia Buchbinder; Genna Weinstein; Phillip Te; Ahmet Dikyurt; Sona Gevorgian; Ana Cachu; Renee Rubanowitz; Ethan Yu; Jared Montaug.

Cover photography by Carolyn V on Unsplash.